By Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston
HERLONG, California (CNN) - If you need an example of why it is hard to cut the budget in Washington look no further than this Army depot in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada range.
CNN was allowed rare access to what amounts to a parking lot for more than 2,000 M-1 Abrams tanks. Here, about an hour's drive north of Reno, Nevada, the tanks have been collecting dust in the hot California desert because of a tiff between the Army and Congress.
The U.S. has more than enough combat tanks in the field to meet the nation's defense needs - so there's no sense in making repairs to these now, the Army's chief of staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told Congress earlier this year.
If the Pentagon holds off repairing, refurbishing or making new tanks for three years until new technologies are developed, the Army says it can save taxpayers as much as $3 billion.
That may seem like a lot of money, but it's a tiny sacrifice for a Defense Department that will cut $500 billion from its budget over the next decade and may be forced to cut a further $500 billion if a deficit cutting deal is not reached by Congress.
Why is this a big deal? For one, the U.S. hasn't stopped producing tanks since before World War II, according to lawmakers.
Plus, from its point of view the Army would prefer to decide what it needs and doesn't need to keep America strong while making tough economic cuts elsewhere.
"When a relatively conservative institution like the U.S. military, which doesn't like to take risks because risks get people killed, says it has enough tanks, I think generally civilians should be inclined to believe them," said Travis Sharp a fellow at the defense think tank, New American Security.
But guess which group of civilians isn't inclined to agree with the generals on this point?
To be exact, 173 House members - Democrats and Republicans - sent a letter April 20 to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to continue supporting their decision to produce more tanks.
That's right. Lawmakers who frequently and loudly proclaim that presidents should listen to generals when it comes to battlefield decisions are refusing to take its own advice.
If the U.S. pauses tank production and refurbishment it will hurt the nation's industrial economy, lawmakers say.
"The combat vehicle industrial base is a unique asset that consists of hundreds of public and private facilities across the United States," the letter said. The outlook for selling Abrams tanks to other nations appears "stronger than prior years," the letter said. But those sales would be "inadequate to sustain the industrial base and in some cases uncertain. In light of this, modest and continued Abrams production for the Army is necessary to protect the industrial base."
Lima, Ohio, is a long way from this dusty tank parking lot. The tiny town in the northwestern part of the Buckeye State is where defense manufacturing heavyweight General Dynamics makes these 60-plus-ton behemoths.
The tanks create 16,000 jobs and involve 882 suppliers, says Kendell Pease, the company's vice-president of government relations and communications. That job figure includes ancillary positions like gas station workers who fill up employees' cars coming and going to the plant.
Many of the suppliers for tank manufacturing are scattered around the country so the issue of stopping production or refurbishment becomes a parochial one: congressional representatives don't want to kill any jobs in their districts, especially as the economy struggles during an election year.
"General Dynamics is not the industrial base," Pease said. "It is small vendors."
But General Dynamics certainly has a stake in the battle of the tanks and is making sure its investment is protected, according to research done by The Center for Public Integrity, a journalism watchdog group.
What its reporters found was General Dynamics campaign contributions given to lawmakers at key times, such as around congressional hearings, on whether or not to build more tanks.
"We aren't saying there's vote buying" said Aaron Metha, one of the report's authors. "We are saying it's true in pretty much all aspects of politics - but especially the defense industry. It's almost impossible to separate out the money that is going into elections and the special interests. And what we found was the direct spike in the giving around certain important dates that were tied to votes."
Pease said General Dynamics is bipartisan in its giving and there is nothing suspicious in the timing of its donations to members of the House and Senate. The giving is tied to when fundraisers are held in Washington - which is also when Congress is in session, he said.
Lawmakers that CNN interviewed denied that donations influenced their decisions to keep the tanks rolling.
Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California and chairman of the House armed services committee, said he didn't know General Dynamics had given him $56,000 in campaign contributions since 2009 until CNN asked him about it.
"You know, the Army has a job to do and we have a job to do," McKeon said. "And they have tough choices because they've been having their budget cut."
McKeon said he's thinking about the long range view. "... If someone could guarantee us that we'll never need tanks in the future, that would be good. I don't see that guarantee."
Similarly, his Democratic counterpart on the committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, who has received $64,000 from General Dynamics since 2001, said he is worried about the workforce if the Lima plant is closed for three years.
"Listen, we don't want to play Russian Roulette with the national security of this country," Reyes said.
Odierno explained to the committee that it would be cheaper to shut down the tank plant and then restart it in 2017. But his plea was ignored.
"Lima would cost us $2.8 billion just to keep that open and our tank fleet is in good shape and we don't need to because of the great support that we have gotten over the last two years," he told the committee.
But General Dynamics said it will cost a lot less to keep the plant open. Pease said the Army hasn't factored in the huge costs of closing the plant and the potential loss of skilled workers who will be needed come 2017 when the Army plans to remodel the Abrams tank.
"It's not whether they need those tanks, it's how much it costs to restart it," said Pease. General Dynamics, he said, will survive with or without refurbishing tanks over the next three years.
So how did Congress respond to Gen. Odeirno's request to shut down production until 2017?
The answer came in the proposed congressional budget for next year. It includes $181 million for tanks the Army doesn't want or need now. That begs another question: who will likely get the money for the 70 or so tanks covered by that contract when it goes out for bid?
"General Dynamics would probably get the contract for it anyway because they are kind of the ones that are out there leading the way on this," said McKeon.
The Army tank battle sends an unsettling message to the Defense Department, says Sharp, with the defense think tank. But it's a message that may not surprise a public weary from decades of battles and horse-trading that have defined Capitol Hill.
"The fact that the military is having such a hard time getting this relatively small amount of money to be saved, I think is an indication of the huge uphill fight that the military faces when it comes to Congress," Sharp said. "Congress is going to fight tooth and nail to protect defense investments that benefit their constituents and the people that live in their states."
Maybe the next time the generals go up to the Hill, they should take a cue from the well-protected tanks parked in California. Perhaps they might consider wearing body armor.
CNN's Sara Anwar contributed to this report.
just plain waste and pork barrel– all in the name of capitalist lobbyists and corps looking for corporate welfare.....hmmmmm i thought they don't need or want a handout or a helping hand for anyone. so why are they looking for this? it's like buying milk for 100,ooo when there are only 100– the remainder is just spilled– total waste....
what does general dynamics think , we are a cash cow? (puns intended)
If GARY JOHNSON were president, this wouldn't even be an issue, because we'd be slashing 43 cents on the dollar, INCLUDING the military. Of course, we'd also be OUT of everywhere the day after he was elected. Unfortunately, neither of the a$$hats in the lead have a clue...
Defense contractors are people too, My Friend...
Yes, defense contractors are people too – and they can stand in the same unemployment line like the rest of us.
Tanks are an outdated relic of WWI and WWII. Today a single solder wit can take out a complete tank with a wire guided rocket. These things are death traps for any crew that gets in them.
sell them to Iran
King of the one liners
I hope your little wire-guided rocket carries a depleted uranium shell, cuz that's the only way you're getting through that armor.
A tandem shaped charge warhead such as the RPG-29 would do it
time for a tank sale...maybe get some of that Iraqi oil money we were suppose to get for liberating them
We sold Abrams tanks to Iraq and to the Australians. Egypt manufactures an export licensed version.
They need diversity and tech. improvement–and a whole line of products, not just one tank. Government should never be keeping companies afloat just so people can keep their jobs. The army wants better technology and something they can actually use. If General Dynamics wants to stay in business they need to step up, take chances, and develop something that will compete in the high-tech marketplace.
I completely agree. Its funny how some don't want to support Sesame Street ($8 million) but do want to take my tax money and spend billions on unneeded defense equipment. How is this NOT redistribution of wealth by a big government?
These politicians aren't stupid. They are CORRUPT. They took the company's money into their own pockets, and they are not giving taxpayer money back to the company to return the favor.
Oops I meant they are "now" giving taxpayer money, not "not"
The Pentagon is thinking about Afghanistan. In that conflict, Stryker APCs are more effective and that's what's on their wish list.
There is no tank in the world better on the battlefield than the M1. I can see the wisdom in building more. Many in the current inventory have been ridden hard for many years and need to be scrapped for parts. Its a smart move to build more to replace the ones that will simply wear out from years of use.
How long do you keep a car? Can you imagine the kind of wear and tear a tank takes over a decade or more of use?
The Army has been using the M1 family of Main Battle Tanks since the early eighties. Many have been modified and upgraded numerous times. It's important that our combat divisions have tanks that are ready to go at a moments notice.
You missed the point. The Congress doesn't want to build more tanks yet. They want to repair and refurbish the thousands of tanks that are not collecting dust in a California desert because "repairing might be cheaper than building more" when the Army specifically said neither is needed at this point. When you have a car sitting in a garage for 20 years, would you repair it, in case you'll need it in 5 years? Or would you get a new one in 5 years?
Oops I made this mistake again. I meant "now collecting" not "not collecting"
Just a wild guess – you're a defense worker and you're justifying your existence.
The average age of every single US Abrams tank that is fielded to active, reserve, war reserve stock, training and test sites is 2.5 years old. None of the Sierra tanks are the current digital configuration and they could never be used for battle without major overhaul. The Army doesn't plan on using those tanks for the modernization program in 2017 because its cheaper to simply modify the current configuration tanks, of which there will be an excess of about 200 sitting in storage in Alabama, than to completely gut a Sierra tank, take it down to bare metal, and build it back up as a "new" tank.
as colonel potter would say....horse hockey. the army has more tanks than it needs. tanks are outdated gas guzzing behemoths. they serve no purpose other than to kill other tanks. the thing is... almost anything fast can kill slow moving behemoths like these. an anti-tank missile from a helicopter... or surface to surface missiles as well.
Easy fix: start more wars in which to deploy more tanks so the demand for them goes up. I'm sure Congress can see to that.
Starts to make me wonder if there isn't something else they are planning for.... Queue the conspiracy music!
Hey, CNN should check into manufacturing of black helicopters that have whisper mode, too.
Maybe we are beter off with a do nothing congress because it doesn't go so great when they get involved. Not only is this corprate welfare but these are just to devastating a weapon to sell to most other countries . Whatever we sell on the world's weapon maket seems to get used to shoot at us years down the road. Simply put this shows that congress just doesn't get it. Spend the money on roads,waterways bridges,and the more basic supplies are armed forces need.
Notice how none of the responsible lawmaker's names were given. And we keep re-electing them year after year.
Sell these tanks to states such as wyoming, montana and utah and let the states raise their own armies to work intermittently with national armed forces. I know hundreds of people just in my state who would be happy to have them and be deployed in case of world war 3
I'll take one. Obama can buy my vote with one of these suckers.
The U.S. has close to 30,000 armored vehicles... If we'd mind our own business we'll never need more than 100 of them.
We need to get these people out of office. They are just throwing our money away.
We can do something.
Wake up people – Vote them out next month.
you do realize Romney wants to add more money to the military budget than the budget even asks for? what for Mittens?
You don't get it, do you? All politicians do this kind of thing for special interests groups. Every decision the U.S. government makes is bought and paid for by someone with a lot more money than you or I could ever conceive of. It doesn't matter who is office, the money simply speaks too loudly for anyone else to be heard.
They won't get voted out purely based on the fact that there are too many people that will not vote for the other party (either one) because they simply are the other party. We will never see the kind of upheaval that it would take to clear these SOB's out of office by voters alone.
"Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California and chairman of the House armed services committee, said he didn't know General Dynamics had given him $56,000 in campaign contributions since 2009 until CNN asked him about it."
What an effn liar! Ok, maybe you don't remember your small potatoes donors, but you can't tell me that you don't remember getting over 50K from a single donor. McKeon is a minor player and doesn't pull in the money that an Obama or Romney would. MAYBE, those two wouldn't remember 50K, but McKeon certainly would.
What stupidity of the congressional members who are trying to keep producing more tanks that our Army does not want nor does it need. It is obvious that some lawmakers believe they should keep bleeding us taxpayers dry of our money, no matter if the expensive equipment it forces down the Army's throat is not needed. Idiots; they must be voted out of congress.
We should build more tanks, because we always build more tanks. Great reasoning.
16,000 jobs making tanks (that we don't need) or 16,000 teachers (that we do need)?
Where would you spend the money?
Hmmmmm... Army productivity versus teacher productivity. What gets you more return for the investment lately?
give me a break...
more wasteful spending suggestions by GOP lawmakers with a vested interest!
Did you miss the part where they said Dems & Repubs are pushing for this?
Your not much of a reader are you? Let me quote the article...."To be exact, 173 House members – Democrats and Republicans – sent a letter April 20 to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to continue supporting their decision to produce more tanks."
Who said it was GOP? Right now I see a Democratic House and President so what gives here?
Huh? Democratic House? Which era are you living in?
The folks who manufacture these babies need some business too, you know! 🙂
But, I always wondered: what if they put SOME of this unparalleled knowledge of engineering to build the kinda machines that don't blow up people and villages?
Maybe that's too unreal for a "what if"?
I would guess if they hadn't put the effort and expense into manufacturing tanks we'd be speaking German. War is crap, but until everyone swears off it I'd like us to stay pretty damn good at it.
That is a dumb answer dude. Army says no. Military says no. I think that the generals know more than not only congress, but a person like you. Making a ww2 comparison was stupid buddy. But keep living in your shell and most of us will continue to laugh.
WW II was a long time ago. In conventional warfare tanks have a life expectancy of four minutes. In some of these pocked wars each tank looses several successive commanders. This is kamikaze stuff, and many armies prefer simple gun carriers to bring conventional weapons within range. This "giving" is implied bribery. Vote for our favorite "bipartisan" funding bill or someone else will get the $$$.
That's about a 70 year old argument.
Ask Romney his opinions about this. I'm sure he is for it and against it, but I forgot what his other two positions are.
Just had another thought. Maybe this is part of the grand scheme of the upcoming American revolt. Some force is manipulating the placing of these tanks in Nevada so they can use to "take over" America from within. Oh yeah...the more I think about it the more I can see a 2000 tank army flying into CA, OR, WA, ID and securing the whole West Coast for the and enemy from the Far East.
Just in time for the election. We need this story plastered throughout the internet. Lets make these lobbyists and lawmakers.... our "LEADERS" accountable. This is a perfect corruption scandal in plain sight. Not only should they be thrown out of the house / congress, they need to be tried for treason. Why would any of our representatives be pressing for this? Its not in the citizens best interest, thats for damn sure. If our military has to make this truth public.... if its THAT BAD that they would spill this information to the public. If there are unused ones sitting in a tank graveyard and this is a known fact.... why on Earth in such dire economic times would anyone be pressing for more waste. Unbelievable!!!! THIS is a perfect example of why this country is in a downward spiral. This is a perfect example of our tax dollars being sucked out of our hands, and being GIVEN to the rich war contractors. Our so called leaders selling us out, destroying local economies to help their friends and families. TREASON!!!!
Boehner says it is another jobs program. Anyone opposed is just another liberal "job killer."
Would that be the republic generals that said that this is not needed? I'm so tired of the left this or the right that. Some of you are as smart as the area between your back and your thighs.
Romney wants to dramatically increase defense spending while cutting taxes for the top 1%. What gets cut is airline and food safety, education and health, veterans benefits and yes Big Bird. Don't let this happen.
We don't need a military, We just need to make it policy that any country that attacks us will be nuked into oblivion. Any country that harbors terrorists that attack us will also be nuked into oblivion. If we aren't attacked, it's not worth going to war.
Early 2012, the Air Force decideed it did not want the Global Hawk 30 unmanned aircraft because months of testing showed it could not be fixed in time to use it when needed. Congress decided to force the Global HAwk on the Air Force. So our sericemen are required to use a less capable plane and taxpayers will have to pay for it.
Not true. The Global Hawk program was cancelled and the 18 or so existing aircraft mothballed.
Please check the current news on this. Last I saw, Congress had restored Global Hulk funding. I would be happy to find that you are right.
The US Navy variant of Global Hawk, called Triton, is fixing the problems GH has with being maintained in the field. The upgrade is what the services should be using, not the flawed Model 30.
I know it's wishful thinking but what if we had since WW2 taken the money that was spent on defense, and spent it on peace, life and the betterment of mankind where would we be now?
eating rice with chinks
More traditional answer is "sucking on commie potato". With every year tanks play less and less significant role, especially when super powers are involved. It's not very common knowledge but in 1960s Khruschev managed to significantly downsize Soviet Army built during Stalin. By significantly reducing number of tanks and switching focus onto rocket/missile technologies, Khruschev gave boost to Soviet and then Russian space program.
Well, if the USA had done that, most of the world might be living within a grossly expanded Soviet Union. With the enormous resources of western Europe added to the USSR's capability it might not have collapsed. Pure speculation of course as is your own fantasy scenario.
Nice utopian world your wishing for. Unfortuantely it bears no relation and has no connection to reality. Do you honestly think that simply not spending money on guns, and instead spending it on butter is going to make the world peaceful? Wow! Must be some good drugs you have gotten ahold of to transport you to fantasy land. You can't change human nature by wishing that there aren't inherently evil people in the world.
I'm Vietnam vet and I don't take drugs I was only asking what if, I wrote I know it's wishful thinking that didn't give you a clue.
Money spent on defense is money spent on peace, no one starts a war they expect to lose....
Yet for some reason Iran has not been accused of trying to mass-produce tanks....
You have to remember there....it takes more than one person to make peace. You can yell peace al you want, but if the other guy shoots you anyways, well it was going to happen eventually anyways.
No such things as peace.
If we suddenly stop producing tanks our capacity for producing tanks disappears. Based on this article it may be prudent to scale back dramatically, but we should never not have companies producing war technology. If that happens, when we need the tanks to fight a war it will be 10 times more expensive to start up new, produce inferior product and take too long to get the product to the battlefield. Have to think of it as insurance of a sort.
Congress how about you spend money on heathcare, education, energy, and infrastructure instead of on tanks that we don't need? That could easily put money into the economy and actually benefit people instead of doing literally nothing but spending.
How about they spend it on none of those things....how about you use your talents to earn money and pay for healthcare and education. We needed tanks to deter communists such as yourself.....
Investing in infrastructure and education and healthcare is the hallmark of a Communist nation?
That's right, tanks are the ultimate insurance against communism. More tanks you have, less communist you are. Too bad, out of all countries China currently has the most of them.
There is no need to stop producing tanks, churn out more! The only need is more war!!!
Isn't that how the Military Industrial Compex works? What is the problem here?
If there is one warning that should have been heeded it was Eisenhower's, but clearly nobody was listening, in fact it appears many misconstrued it as good advice somehow.
Great. So we have to keep bailing out the defense industry in order for that industry to sell tanks to foreign countries' militaries.
Remember when we sold a handful of tanks to Iraq when they were fighting Iran? How'd that work out?
It worked out pretty well – the tanks we fought against in Desert Storm were Russian leftovers they sold to Iraq, not US-made tanks.
They weren't even Russian leftovers. It was the export model of the tank in use by Russian Army Motor Rifle divisions and remains in production in the Czech Republic. Russias T-90 is just a modification of the T-72, but instead of calling it a version of the T-72, which now has a bit of an image problem after Desert Storm, the Russians renamed it the T-90.
I can only give a Congressman or Senator $2500. Companies, by PACs and by combined corporate giving (certainly compensated by salary increase) can give tens to hundreds of thousands to each Congressman. That should be reduced to $2500. Fat chance Congress would pass such a law.
I was in Afghanistan, we were gaving the the Afghan army old weapons that did not function half the time. I believe we should
get these tanks to Afghan troops..we spent billions but believe me not on or in Afghanistan, the money would've paved their roads with gold so do not believe for a minute it was spent on Afghanistan or Afghans to make it better. Anyways, I believe we should build/ equip their army and air force if we are serious about fighting terrorism. Pakistan as a sponsor of terrorism who has been milking and blackmailing does not want a strong Afghan Army and we are falling into their trap.
Since Ohio is a battle ground state – a battle ground state ! Of course they need tanks !!!
You must remember that this helps the organized crime unions, Obama, Kenya and our great leader's support from Moscow.
They're GD employees you numbskull.
Do not worry about having too many tanks. If Romney is elected, then the war with Iran will certainly need these and many more. Romney, the chicken hawk, loves war because it make him feel like a man since he decided to skip out on the Vietnam war like Cheney did. I hope that Romney gets his kids to sign up for the coming war with Iran, but of course that will not happen because they have better things to do like make more millions of dollars. Ah, the joy of being rich and powerful. Nothing like a trillions wasted on a war with Iran to make Republicans feel so manly. Too bad the Republicans do not want to spend the bucks on the VA where it is really needed. A few extra billion in the VA medical system would do wonders.
The concern is if the plant is closed, the workers and their skills will be lost forever. If there is a future need for big tanks, it will take a lot of time and expense to find suitable workers and retrain them to the point they can make tanks of the necessary high quality. There is a discipline in engineering called learning curve theory. Losing skilled workers puts you back at the beginning of the learning curve, and this imposes a cost too.
So what is cheaper, keep a steady small production of tanks going, or close the plant and then pay out the nose when you need to return to making tanks and you have to train up new people from scratch? Don't count on the old crew being around, they will have moved and found new jobs elsewhere. The Army is in the process of designing a heavily revised M-1, so tank production will resume again in the near future even if the plant is closed today.
Read the article more carefully. There are 2000 M1-A1 tanks in storage awaiting refitting. We don't need more tanks. The Soviet Union is not preparing a tank army to attack through the Fulda Gap. Think. What were the two most useful military items of the past 10 years? Armored small unit vehicles (armored Humvees) and unmaned reconnaissance/attack aircraft. Both logical responses to asymmetric warfare. Bottom line: don't need no more stinkin' tanks in guerrilla warfare. They're useless.
And Romney wants to allocate more of our Money than the Military budget requests.
Please publish the names of the Senators and Congressmen pressing for the unnecessary tanks.
Of course Rep. Buck McKeon, doesn't know who gives him money. That would be crass.
general dynamics lobbyists (found online)
Does the boarder patrol need new vehicles? A tank may get the point across to those damn drug smugglers!
OK, I get it; General Dynamics bribes our congressmen with a significant amount of money. Surely there's something General Dynamics can make that the army actually wants...
The jobs excuse is ludicrous because we could just take that money and build roads, bridges, trains, airports that would give a hell of a lot of people jobs, and in the end, we actually get something out of it instead of busy work resulting in tanks rotting in the desert.
Sam – excellent idea. Want to run for Congress? I'll vote for you.
If you lose those workers, you lose their skills and with that the ability to make tanks in the future if need arises. Once an industry and it's skilled workers goes away it is very hard to reconstruct it during an emergency.
Okay then, how many battleships have we found a need for after they were no longer "wanted"? Did we maintain a battleship building program just to keep the skills from disappearing?
Battle tanks are just like battleships, no longer have a purpose. Why is the Army even working on a new design? We could build 2,000 new models and park them in the desert – just to keep the skills from disappearing!!!
We already know congress is full of A s s h a t s.
So is the internet.
Sometimes I wonder how we could possibly spend as much as we do on our bloated military. Then I read stories like this an I remember. Ugh.
Don't these idiots in congress realize we're broke?
They know we're broke. They also know that they can't get re-elected if the jobs in their districts disappear if the tank order is cancelled. And – after all – it's ALL abut getting re-elected.
Panetta is part of the Obama administration, hopefully he tries to fight this. Of course Romney would just rubber stamp it as he said in the debates.
why dont we sell all those tanks to Afghanistan for Mineral rights? or Iraq for oil?
or lets put them all along the border and make it a test range !
Jeffe, it´s too late....Iraqi´s just inked a new arms supply contract with Russia worth over 4-5 billion US$. They say, this arms are needed to foght the terrorists.. I wonder why they did not come to the US ?? US spent thousands of precious lives, kazyllions of dollars and "friends" from Iraq go to Moscow to buy military goods. And so will happen in EVERY country, where the US – style "freedom & democracy" was the mission..None of those missions has been – or will be – acomplished..
Iraq bought 240 Abrams tanks including all of the support equipment. They'll be ordering more, which will be produced at Lima.
I wonder if Congress will ever do its job again. If the rest of us did our jobs the way those in Congress have the past 4 years, we'd all be out on the street in a New York minute. We need term limits and, in addition, some people with ethics.
Term limits sound great. More ethics over sight of Congress sounds fantastic, limiting lobbiest and super PAC donations sound wonderful, but all the would require Congress to vote on so forget it!
Nice to see Dems & Reps working together for a change. Just when I was starting to lose hope in the system.
It would make perfect sense if the Army simply sold the tanks retail as family vehicles for scared suburban mommies as an upgrade from their already armored SUVs. Worked for Hummer.
So pretty much, pay the companies to make a product that we don't need and won't use. Why not just cut to the chase, stop pretending, and write them a subsidy check? Then they'd might as well deliver toy tanks instead and save taxpayers in storage costs.
Under this model, we might as well make the government a big customer for every industry. Buy up extra computers, cars, and pencils. Don't need them? Doesn't matter! Just store them somewhere and pat ourselves on the back for "saving jobs".
Actually, we will probably need the tanks. The world at this point is NOT a safe place.
Actually, the Army doesn't think so, and they certainly know a lot better than Congress. This is just another example of wasteful government and politicians doing things with an eye on getting re-elected, rather than doing what's right for the country and the taxpayers.
The Army is looking at the current budget year and three years out, trying to make ends meet. They get a certain amount of total money and have to divvie it up among thousands of uses. Right now, they are fat for tanks and want to spend the money they are budgeting for the next several years on other priorities. Congress is taking a bit longer view and worried that if the Army closes the tank plant in Lima, those workers have to eat and will move away to take other jobs, taking their experience and skills with them. The next time the Army needs new tanks, which it eventually will, those workers will be gone, working somewhere else or even retired and not there to train up a new crew and pass their experience along. The next tank program will have to start from scratch, training all new people and climbing a steep learning curve to make a tank of the necessary quality.
Lawmakers really need to listen to the generals on this policy. It's insane that while they complain about cuts, the lawmakers are actively pressing the Army to spend money on equipment that the Army has said not only that it has enough of, but it is also starting to shy away from heavy main-battle tanks, and looking more for armored fighting vehicles (Strykers, Bradleys etc) which are light enough and fast enough to handle quick deployment and urban fighting, while the MBTs are really only suited for large open areas
ahh I remember her so well. The smell, the sound, the power..the hard work! Don't let her die of rust. Maybe my tank is there right now..
I wonder if General Dynamics gave me some money I don't know about?
I guess this story includes every single politician. How depressing. 🙁
1. Guilt within Congress is a shared experience, with Right Guilt and Left Guilt.
2. Those tanks are war stock and can be upgraded at a cost far less than building a new one.
3. Anyone remember the aircraft carrier the Navy didn't want but was forced to take anyway?
4. Remember what President Eisenhower said about the Military-Industrial Complex and you have all the answers.
This is what happens when the people neglect to exercise their oversight of Congress.
We must stop presuming that the political sororities have the people's interest in mind when they select candidates fro us to vote on. Factions can present one of their people in each party for us to choose from. No matter which one wins they get their operative into Congress. And people have the nerve to berate the Tea Party for taking the political sororities to task.
I remember Sen. Ed Muskie (D) makingg this statement way back in the '70's –"A billion here and a billion there, pretty soon you are talking real money". Evidently those serving now don't remember, they would prefer to talk Scrooge to get elected, then vote like Santa Claus. Another good Muskie quote.
Even before that.
"Ezra Taft Benson – Stand Up For Freedom" – 11 Feb 1966
If Muskie said it, he was echoing the earlier observation by Everett Dirksen, R senator – IL.
Everett Dirksen of Illinois is the source of the quote for a billion here, a billion there..
Supporting people who make things that will never be used, just for the sake of paying them. Sounds like government aid to the people and to companies. High priced welfare.
A lot of people said the same thing when the Abrams was first brought into service. Then we had Desert Storm and the Abrams proved to be unstoppable when pitted against fairly modern Russian made armor. The Russians and Chinese never saw that coming, thinking like the Abrams critics it was too expensive and couldn't do the job. Surprise.
There's no rogue nation that wants to buy our mothballed tanks? 😛
I am sure their is, but we are not selling.
Congress should be focusing on encouraging jobs that actually produce things the world needs.
Laws to punish companies that outsource jobs for example.
Obama just tried that recently and the Republican-controlled Senate shot him down. Go figure.
What a story like this is missing is a complete listing of the lawmakers trying to push this. If one of them is mine and is up for re-election, something like this would influence my vote.
I've been saving up my urine and diarrhea in jars for years. I want to have enough to fill up a hot tub.
I used to drive an M60 A3....let me know when I can get one of these on Ebay.
You can pick up an Abrams at the Sierra Nevada range. They'll be glad to buy a replacement.
Similar to the bridge to nowhere, these are the tanks to nowhere. We can always use tanks. I see them in my neighborhood all the time making deliveries....are these are the US Postal Service tanks?
How dare the ARMY Question congress. We need MORE TANKS! We need to invade Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and many more countries. We NEED Tanks! It stops Osama Bin Laden2 and it creates a jobs for Republicans! TANK Damn it TANKS!
But first, Canada.
I love the way reporters continually say a few billion is a small % of the budget. A few billion here, a few there and soon it adds up to a trillion dollars. Don't pay your taxes and the gov't thinks a dollar over what it thinks your budget should be is stealing. Maybe we should let the IRS apply its standards to the Federal gov't. While the roll of the tank is not dead it is potentially on he same lifeline as the battleship was in WWII. Still considered a mainline weapon but it took so many other assets to protect it both from a single bomber or a submarine it became technologically obsolete almost from the beginning other than in a support roll to landing forces.
The tank is still the leading weapon for high speed land warfare. No aspect of warfare can do it's job without support from the others arms. Tanks require supporting infantry for urban warfare but for a high speed advance, infantry holds the terrain that armor has swept the enemy from first. None of these can succeed without air support, but even the air force cannot take and hold an enemy's terrain. That requires infantry, armor and artillery to accomplish.
Cheese Wonton – you are right. The tank is a critical part of the military's ability to successfully complete ground operations. And guess what, they say that they have enough to fulfill that mission.
What happens five years down the road when those tanks need an upgrade to handle a new threat and all those experienced workers are gone? That is the crux of the problem. Once that plant closes and the workers depart, it is very costly and time consuming to reconstruct that capability from zero. If you need tanks in a hurry, it won't happen. The savings might be illusory. I have seen the Navy do exactly this, retire ships early to afford new ones some years down the road, in this case retiring the Spruance class DDs early, many with less than 20 years on a hull designed to last 30, to fund the next generation Zumwalt class. But, lo and behold, the radar for the new Zumwalts was too complex and required too much time to develop, so the Zumwalt class was cancelled at three ships and now the Navy is short destroyers in a big way. Some savings. That time the Navy tried to do the right thing to save money, but ended up being burned. Don't think there aren't people in Congress and the GAO who pay attention to these things.
The tank is still a viable weapon system, so much so that two countries decided to re-purchase tanks AFTER having decided they were unneeded and too expensive: Belgium and Holland. Canada was in the process of drawing down the size of their armor force and realized that it was a mistake to do so- they have just purchased the newest version of the Leopard. We (armor) might be small as a branch, but we can control vast amounts of terrain quickly. Are we suited to be employed everywhere? No. But no one type of force is. That's why it's called COMBINED ARMS; everybody lends a hand as the force commander deems fit to apply to the situation.
We need more tanks!!
Somewhere Dwight Eisenhower is laughing his a** off. If you don't get the reference, read his presidential farewell speech. He predicted this nonsense 50 years ago.
So true America! Beware the military industrial complex...and their enablers – politicians that put their re-election war chest above the needs of the whole country. I know all about the SC's ruling that you can't restrict corporations from pumping money into politics, but for goodness sake people! It's the underlying problem with our political system, it all goes back to who has the juice to make the meat puppets in DC dance their tunes.
Gotta love how Congress operates. Gotta love how they can be paid off for just about anything. Complete BS.
just yet another example of the DEMS WANTING TO SPEND MONEY WE DO NOT HAVE! HERE IS A NOVEL IDEA!..TRY PASSING A BUDGET FOR ONCE!!!
You don't seem very bright.
Scott read the story and have a little background about what party traditionally supports large military spending before writing it would help in making your case.
Scott is caps lock challenged. You almost have wipe the spittle off your monitor after that.
Just train the Syrian freedom fighters (who are truly fighting for freedom and democracy) on them, and give it to them at cost. Let them put it to good use against Bashar al Assad's military murderers.
"Freedom fighters", my @ss.
There would be Chinese military engineers and technicians pouring over them within weeks of their arrival.
Have to spend the Government money or no money next fiscal year.
sell them to countries that need them
They are expensive to buy and to operate, and there are a lot of less costly(but far less capable) Russian tanks on the market. There is no shortage of high quality German Leopard IIs on the market as well, from both Sweden (which builds their version) and Germany. Everyone upgrades what they have and then tries to sell the older models to countries with less well endowed armies like Chile.
Our government is run like the Mafia.
No, the mafia's run better.
You got that right! LOL
I've read some comments saying the tank is outdated I disagree the abrams is still a great weapons system and will be for years to come. And considering the main Arab tank is a white Toyoda pickup truck.
Lets invest in something to kill people that the army says it doesn't need instead of investing in educating our youth.
This is why people are fed up with our government. Corruption. Greed. Lies.
This is how we got into this mess in the first place- pork spending and career politicians. These tank companies can learn like others how to adapt to new realities. I'm guessing there are a plethora of other examples where we are wasting billions to save a few jobs. Time for us to wake up and elect some people with sense.
Even though I would never want someone to lose their job, especially if they are proficient at doing their job, but I really don't see spending $3 billion on something that isn't needed. But I am certain we need to move away from a military enterprise that we are in now where military decisions are based more on money than what is better for the nation overall. I think the same thing happen with military bases closures a few years ago.
This is what happens when you undermine the free market. When supply meets demand, stop supplying! Economics 101. That labor is now freed up and can be reallocated for more productive means.
That's exactly the problem. It's not free market. There is one supplier – General Dynamics, and one buyer – U.S. Government. The price is fixed and the buyer's hands are tied, because it is obligated to buy what supplier supplies. Where do you see free market here?
The tank plant in Lima is owned by the US Army. Chrysler used to operate it for the Army and design the Army's tanks. The Abrams was the last tank designed by Chrysler, and was ready for production about the time Chrysler was about to go into bankruptcy. Fearing Chrysler would go under and the Abrams not get built, the Reagan administration gave Chrysler loan guarantees while finding a new parent firm, in this case General Dynamics, to operate their tank program for them.
Interesting when you consider that I keep hearing how the government does not create jobs. Kind of a head scratcher.
They don't. The state plunders the american people via taxes, decreasing demand and investment, killing jobs, and gives the tax revenue away to campaign contributors. Military spending only creates jobs if you ignore the broken windows fallacy. All of that money given away to megacorporations could have been in the pocket of American taxpayers, where they would have spent it on goods they wanted, creating socially beneficial jobs, instead of taxpayers being forced to buy products they don't want.
Even though I would never want someone to lose their job especially if proficient at doing their job but I really don't see spending $3 billion on something that isn't needed. But I am certain we need to move away from a military enterprise that we are in now we military decisions are based more on money than what is better for the nation overall. I think the same thing happen with military bases closures a few years ago.
How about investing in the Coast Guard and getting their new boats quicker? You know the service that's still using boats from Vietnam era.... Who's job is to rescue people... and protect the environment and economic resources... just a thought....
Stop. Making. Sense.
No, we arent giving them to Syria
Members of Congress do not give a DAMN about the budget. All they care about is re-election.
Then don't re-elect them.
I know it's a long shot, but if we could flush all the politicians out for about 3 cycles, we might get some pragmatic, sensible people in there...either that or Skynet, take your pick.
government waste and spending propping up corporate welfare to an industry that can't survive on it's own. way to go congress. not suprising. these jobs get votes in the states that build these things and these companies make money for the guys who invest heavily in them like the bushes/carlyle gourp.
And big oil, and big farms, and big pharma and...welfare for everyone!
This is the classic example of why we have a multi- trillion dollar deficit. The Congressman gets $56,000 campaign contribution from General Dynamics, in return he wants to WASTE BILLIONS of our taxpayer dollars keeping their factory afloat so he can get re-elected to do more of the same. We don't have a deficit because taxes aren't high enough, and it's not social security and food stamps either, it's WASTEFUL SPENDING! As long as we keep electing the same people to Congress that spend our money like drunken sailors we are always going to have a big deficit.
You got that right dude! Always has been military spending that has caused the debt, not Sesame Street.
Guess you don't work for a company that has military contracts that make up the bulk of the income for the business which keeps me a job and I pay taxes.
Sure don't....Enough with the military spending already...America hasn't defended itself since 1941.
Just because you have a job that is part of the military industrial Complex shouldn't cloud your senses on what is right. This nation must open it's eye and stop mistreating it's citizens before it is too late. Worrying about color and all the other issues that aid in the rest of the world taking over this county while we in-fight and slowly get sold out by our own corporations
And sometimes you have to retool yourself and find another industry. That's just the reality these days. Actually, it's been like that for a good number of years now. Things change and no one is guaranteed a job forever. Welcome to the club.
All extemely valid points except for the last part about taxes. To address the present realities regarding reducing spending and the deficit crisis you have to increase taxes, there is no way around it. However, that doesn't mean we have to be stupid about it because we have the same problem with taxes that we do with this tank problem. How to achieve the outcome in a fair and balanced fashion without being hustled by the decision makers who handle policy. In other words as it relates to taxes everybody has to kick in, most especially the upper 1% who get away with paying their fair share. Additionally, all the people and corporations that park their money offshore and get away with paying as well. You can't have the middle class picking up the tab for a group of people that manage to find inventive ways to defer taxes, laughing at the rest of us for picking up the tab while they get off free. That makes the process as corrupt as the military procurement realities. I've had enough of this BS its time to call the politicians on all of this BS, fair is fair and all of this stuff is pure BS.
Congress can't balance a budget, but they can buy tanks no one wants or needs. How bad do they want their approval rating to be? Can it go negative?
Our Congress is little more than human ballast on the backs of the American people.
Stop insulting ballast.
Here's an idea. Instead of wasting 5 bil on tanks the army doesn't want, why not spend 5 bil on feeding hungry children or housing for needy families. Those would also entail spending money to support industries and employees and all the ancillary service sector employees.
They'd rather invest in something that can kill people.
Why don't we take the money and put it towards the national debt?
blah blah blah; same old tired 'feed the children' crap.... but not disagreeing that waste needs to be cut!!
Because those people don't make big enough campaign contributions.
We could save "Big Bird" from being cut from rommey's budget if we cut the tanks. Big Bird wins the hearts and minds of the worlds children not tanks.
because that would be boring and unnecessary to the chickenhawks who keep peddling war over human services
so the 5 B can be spent on the unemployed people and bailouts for companies that are broke... you're saying.
I can attest that the tank plant is vital to the local economy in Ohio, and I understand where Congress is coming from, but it makes no sense financially to continue making tanks that will just go to rot. Have them make water purifiers for Africa or something else useful to humanity.
Why not simply re-purpose these facilities to stop making tanks but other items?
Not to mention that those dust-gathering tanks could also be re-purposed for other jobs. The chassis of a tank is very versatile, you can practically convert a main battle tank into almost anything you can imagine.
The new Prius tank. 10 star safety rating and runs on diesel. Unfortunately it takes up the HOV lane AND the lane next to it.
"Why not simply re-purpose these facilities to stop making tanks but other items?"
The U.S. government doesn't act as a guaranteed customer for many other items...
Both the Army and Congress are interested in ideas on what to do with the government owned tank plant. Especially considering there are excess defense and commercial manufacturing facilities all over the nation that are more well kept and modern.
Maybe park a few in our embassy compounds?
Fully armed and ready to go. Might change their minds about rioting over a stupid video.
i'm Mitt Romney, and i approve this wasted funding.
How can you blame ONLY Romney when it stated in the article that both Democrats and Republicans wanted the military to accept more tanks
You don't make sense
Mitt isn't even an elected official (yet), so this doesn't make any sense. You can't blame the president elect for the follies the current president. If Mitt were in office today, instead of a few months from now, he certainly wouldn't put up with this kind of waste.
Not this kind of waste, No. Mitt The Twit will waste our treasure and our soldiers blood and lives in the Tried and True GOP manner, a unnecessary war.
Just for the ignorant who somehow want to blame Mr. Romney for this, I'd suggest if you can read to see if ANYWHERE he is involved in this. But, of course, maybe we cann't blame the President either as in 4 years he's not even put together a budget, just letting the gov't run more unchecked financially than usual.
Obviously no one got your joke. I thought it was funny. 🙂
"To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;"
Just looked at this place on Google Earth. Not a tank in sight, nothing in the "hot California sun." Tanks are very visible on GE. Thanks, Communist News Network, for more made-up stories slandering the military and Congress.
Images on Google Earth are often many years old. The image of my house predates my purchase of it, and that was four years ago. Many military installations have important features omitted or distorted for obvious reasons. The Google Earth image of where I work is ages old. Try Google Earthing Israeli military installations and see how much detail is available. Same with other nation's military installations.
What is funny to me is that Google Maps shows one of my favorite restaurants on the map, but the image predates the construction of the restaurant by a few years. I have seen the same thing of Google Maps images of Huntsville Alabama.
Btw, if you look at Sierra Army Depot on Google Maps satellite view you will see endless rows of tanks and other vehicles on the southwest corner of the base. The images are deliberately fuzzed because it's a military installation, but you can see their outline.
All this does is provide reward/incentive for stagnant thinking. They can have those 16K jobs or more if they reinvest the funds into technologies that are thinking ahead.
Which companies are getting rich by producing more tanks?
When they become obsolete sell the scrap metal to an Asian country so that we can buy it back as new "steel' for our manufacturing plants.
The materials those tanks are made of are classified and mostly not steel. Read about Chobham armor. What little can be told will have you scratching your head.
So this is the fine example of the system the US holds up to other countries to emulate! It's a system that is corrupt through and through and it will stay corrupt until elections are publicly financed with a complete ban on all outside contributions. With public financing of political campaigns, a lot of problems will magically disappear.
They will get plenty of use when Romney sends your sons to fight a war against Iran
His sons will be playing Black ops...
You a chump.
And I'm guessing you're a chimp...
mcskadittle you are right. Romney will also send America's men and women to die in wars in Syria, Egypt, Libya, and the Korean Peninsula (Korean War Part 2). Count on it.
Just to highlight the irony. As of the first of the year, if nothing happens, sequestration will hit the Defense budget to the tune of 10.8%. So, instead of finding savings to lessen the impact, you seek to expand the budget in advance of the cleaver's chop. Congress hires a barber among other service providers for its members - perhaps they should consider math tutors! The arithmatic of Congressmen and Senators defies logic.
Congress needs a good flush. They have far too many benefits for the limited amount of work that they do. A Barber? We need to take op a National collection to get him to cut some, ah,- some leaches off from the body politic.
I would like to have one... you know, for commuting to work and such.
Me too, I would love to have one. I bet I could find easy parking, on top of any car I wanted. 😀
I'd maintain it, fix it, and keep it running if they would let me have it.
You two are the best!
Whoever wrote this article needs a geography lesson. Lima, Ohio is in the WESTERN part of the state – not eastern.
Exactly!! And I wouldn't characterize it as "tiny" either.
It's nice to see that you two grasped the most important part of the article....
Military. Industrial. Complex.
Ike was right.